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Facebook Ads for Real Estate: How To Create A High-Converting, Strategically Targeted Ad For Lead Generation

During these strange times of COVID-19, as we struggle to stay connected while social distancing, it’s not surprising that Facebook usage is up by 50%. 

We’re sharing news stories, mood-lightening memes, videos of Italians singing from balconies. We’re scrolling wistfully through photos of newborn nieces and nephews. We’re watching Facebook Live streams of yoga classes, mini-concerts, and celebrity story times.

We’re dreaming of what we’ll do when life finally gets back to normal. For some of us, that will include buying or selling a home.

If you’re a real estate agent, now is the perfect time to run a Facebook ad campaign.

In this blog post, we’ll share some tips we learned from Travis Thom. Thom is a Facebook marketing strategist for the real estate community, and he recently joined Gabe Cordova for an enlightening webinar on how real estate agents can maximize Facebook.

Get the full video line-up of Facebook advertising strategies!

How To Create A High-Converting Facebook Ad

The first step to creating an effective ad is deciding what, exactly, you’re advertising. Simply stating, “Let me help you sell your house!” isn’t going to cut it.

Instead, provide something of value. Create a First-Time Home Buyer’s Guide, for example, and then create an ad promoting that, not you. As Thom repeatedly paraphrased from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “You have to make an emotional deposit before you can make a withdrawal.”

“That's where things shifted for me,” said Thom. “The second I started asking, ‘How can I actually give value first, and then continue to nurture my leads with more value that attracts people?’ People will gravitate towards you if you're giving value.”

With that in mind, here are some of his tips for creating a high-converting Facebook ad:

  • Make sure the image includes prominent text that states what you’re offering. Ninety percent of people will read your image before they read the smaller headline and body text of the ad.
  • Follow the AIDA copywriting formula:
    • Attention: People scroll through the mobile newsfeed 2.5x faster than they do on a desktop, so write something that will grab their attention.
    • Interest: Provide unusual, counterintuitive, or fresh information that will pique their interest
    • Desire: Engage their heart
    • Action: Include a call-to-action that will drive them to take the next step (“Click here to download the guide.”)
  • Create an animated or video ad. According to Thom, “Animated images get a 20% to 30% higher click through rate and a 200%-500% higher engagement rate than just a static image.” Check out Thom’s video on how to use Facebook’s video creation tool.

3 Facebook Ad Targeting Strategies

Another key component of creating an effective Facebook ad is choosing the right targeting strategy. You have to set the right kind of parameters so the right people will see your ads.

In an effort to prevent any type of discrimination, Facebook has made some changes to the way you can target real estate ads. When you begin to create your ad, you must select the checkbox for Special Ad Category. This will set a few default targeting restrictions, including:

  • No targeting specific zip codes. (Instead, the target location will be a 15-mile radius, either of an address you type in or a city you select.)
  • No targeting by age.
  • No targeting by gender.

After these new restrictions were put in place, Thom and his team dedicated nearly $100K to testing out new targeting strategies. Here are the 3 they found to be most effective.

Broad Interest Targeting

With this type of targeting, you set a location--and that’s it. No interests. 

Why does this work? Thom explains: “Facebook understands our browsing habits. It knows what we do online and offline—what apps we've downloaded, who we’ve engaged with in Messenger, what we’ve purchased, where we’ve traveled recently. The machine learning is insane.”

Basically, Facebook is able to look at the image you choose for your ad and the website it links to, understand that you are creating a real estate ad, and then show it to people who are interested in real estate. With broad interest targeting, Thom says, “the algorithm does the heavy lifting for you.”

If you use this strategy, make sure your ad is specific to the neighborhood or community you’re promoting. Use the community’s name in your ad, and perhaps choose an image that includes a relevant landmark.

Top Level Targeting

Thom also calls this “key point indicator behavioral targeting.” With this strategy, you use Facebook’s behavior targeting to go after people who have done things like:

  • Downloaded the Zillow app
  • Looked at an online mortgage calculator
  • Visited realtor.com
  • Checked Credit Karma

Behavioral Intent Based Re-targeting

This is Thom’s favorite strategy. It involves running a video ad, then creating a new audience of people who watched at least 50% of the video.

Borrowing Thom’s example, let’s say Susie is waiting for an Uber, so she’s casually scrolling through Facebook to kill time. She sees a video ad and it catches her attention. She watches about half of the video, which is about a new community development just around the corner. The video shows the pool, the dog park, the fitness center, and a few other amenities.

Then her Uber arrives, and she’s off.

“We will then create a custom audience of Susie and about 4,000 to 5,000 other people like her that watched 50% of that video,” says Thom, “because Susie and those others have shown us behavioral intent.”

Then you can run a new ad to that custom audience. Thom suggests a lead-generating ad—offer the floor plans, details, and photos of that development.

“You can continue to refine the audience, based on their behavioral engagement. This works really, really well.”

(As for the percentage you set, 50% is a good benchmark. But if the video is 5 minutes or longer, you might consider re-targeting people that watched 10% or 25%.)


While the whole country waits out this coronavirus, and while thousands of non-essential workers are staying home, many real estate transactions are on hold. But the world will resume some semblance of normalcy soon enough, and when that happens, you’ll need a full pipeline of real estate prospects.

Your audience is spending more time than ever on Facebook. Use the strategies shared in this blog post to show them some ads, generate some leads, and start those conversations about their future real estate plans.

Learn More: 4 Winning Facebook Ad Strategies [Video Line-Up]

Travis Thom has helped us put together a video line-up that teaches agents how to maximize Facebook and stay visible. The line-up includes the full webinar, as well as concise videos on four winning campaigns: 

  • The Reciprocity Funnel
  • The Digital Mayor Influencer Campaign
  • The Open House Mini Funnel Campaign
  • The Marketplace Home List Campaign

These quick mini-lessons on maximizing Facebook will have you generating leads in no time!

Click here to get the video line-up.

Sammy Harper

Sammy Harper is a regular contributor to the Realvolve blog. In addition to a decade of digital marketing experience, she's spent the last five years immersed in the world of real estate and CRM. Fascinated by the real estate industry and inspired by agents’ stories, she vows to provide only the most valuable of content to help agents thrive.


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